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Freewheeling design

You may have noticed the creative flair of the new 86th Street bridge that opened to drivers and pedestrians last November. The decorative railings feature different types of metal bicycle silhouettes that stand out whether you’re driving under it on I-35W or crossing the bridge itself. That’s by design, according to City Traffic and Transportation Engineer Kirk Roberts.    

“This is something new to us, and it’s meant to create a sense of place and identity for the city,” Roberts said. 

The City worked with consulting staff to determine the design theme. With the recent addition of bike lanes, 86th Street has become increasingly important for cyclists and is the main east/west bike route in Bloomington. That made the

bicycle theme a natural fit. 

“What I like most about the design is that it uses a global symbol,” Roberts said. “For many, having a bicycle as a kid was their first sense of freedom, and even as adults most can relate to the simple joy of riding a bike. We hope that some of the more than 100,000 daily drivers on I-35W notice that.”

MnDOT replaced the old 86th Street bridge after a truck with an oversized load caused structural damage in 2017. The new bridge provides wider sidewalks and a higher clearance over I-35W. 

“All of the bridges across I-35W are unifying features for Bloomington,” Roberts said. “So the bridge itself is a symbol for the idea of ‘One Bloomington’.”